'The Church and its Friendly Subdivisions'

in reply to Mr. R. W. Monsell.

J. N. Darby.

Geneva; Kaufmann. 1849.

<04003F> 133

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9


It is not my intention to occupy myself with Mr. Monsell's attacks on his brethren, and I hope that those amongst them who can feel themselves hurt by his decisions and accusations will keep themselves perfectly tranquil.

The Lord has said to us, "Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also"; and in such cases experience has made me feel that the best answer is to keep silence, and to continue to labour for the glory of the Lord in doing good.

I pray my God, with all my heart, that He may grant me to justify His goodness and His ways, and not my own. My earnest desire, my earnest prayer to God, is that He may keep me from defending a cause, and that He may give me to be only occupied with His truth. The times are too serious for me to defend any party whatsoever. It is a poor device of the enemy, engaging in such a path, in order to turn away our energy from that which is precious to God, and from that which makes His thoughts of any avail against the work of that enemy.

{*In the Canton of Neuchatel, brethren hare no need of our telling them who desired to put fetters on the work of evangelization, which God has blessed in spite of all. And I think that the brethren of the Canton of Vaud are able to say whether the brethren who visited them, and who have laboured in the midst of them, are "perfidious enemies who have brought poison to them." If they have found them such, it would be useless for me to repeat that they are not so; and, in effect, those who think so would do well to separate themselves from them. I only exhort them, contrary to what Mr. Monsell counsels them, to do it without waiting for anything.}

If the work which is attacked is not of God, let it fall; If it is a work of God, a light of God, let us not stop to justify ourselves; and, in the place of that, let us insist, for the blessing of all the Church, on the truth, which is its foundation. If the walk of those who have professed this truth has barred its progress, let us not be surprised if those who combat the truth which we profess, seek to take advantage of our faults. The remedy for that is to profit by those reproofs, by humbling ourselves before God for that which has given rise to them; and we owe a debt of thankfulness to Him who causes us to see that which might stop the progress of the work of God, which is unspeakably dear to us.

134 The work, which for many years has drawn the attention of Christians, is, I believe, a work of God; and, on the confession even of those who oppose them, it is a question of truths infinitely important to all the Church.

I wish that these truths may remain prominent.

The enemy seeks, by the tract of Mr. Monsell, to turn the thoughts of Christians away from them, and to injure the energy which maintains them. My desire, in writing, is to put them back in their place.

Beside, the tract of Mr. Monsell is fitted to disturb people's minds on questions of secondary importance, which he regards himself as such, and by it to turn them aside from more important things, and from that pursuit after such a knowledge of Christ as nourishes the soul. Even when we would wish it, we cannot, at this moment, withdraw ourselves from these questions, and it is useful to put them in a clear light, in order that minds may be free to think of better things. We must at present occupy ourselves with elders, in order that there may be that tranquillity which makes us capable of occupying ourselves with Christ.

I entreat my brethren to seek much the presence of Jesus, that they may be in a state to put things in their own places, and to attribute to them their right value.

In the place of Christ without elders, elders without Christ would be a sorrowful exchange.

John saw elders in heaven, and they were in a higher place when, leaving their thrones and their crowns, they prostrated themselves before the throne and before the Lamb, than when they were crowned and in their places.

Let us, above all, be worshippers, and keep ourselves cleaving to the truth. The Lord is coming soon.

135 The object of Mr. Monsell, and he avows it,* is plainly, to compose a new church system out of the remains of old dissent and the scattered brethren who expect the "Church of the Future.", He informs us that the system which he "finds to be biblical" is nowhere established.** To accredit this new system, the one now existing must be depreciated, as well as the brethren who were already labouring in the field. The dissenting tendency of one part of the Free Church is evident. The opportunity was too favourable to be missed. He will allow all sorts of things in these brethren, provided they join themselves to his work and to himself.***

{*He has even given the programme of his system which, in the main, is, as it seems to me, nothing but the old dissenting system, in preserving even the two shades of difference of Mr. P. Olivier and Mr. Rochat. He builds, however, on the system of Mr. Olivier, only admitting the system of Mr. Rochat in a subordinate manner, and by the side of the other, and by paying his court to what he calls the new and amiable dissent of the Free Church (although it has not the veto of the church, the only safeguard against the entrance of the unconverted, and although there be clergy in it). It is all one. "The friendly division" is even a means fully admitted (pp. 60, 61) in order to reach the desired end. The proposed system accepts it, provided that no one is friendly with the "gnawing leprosy" of Brethren.}

{**Page 96, of Mr. Monsell's tract.}

{***Pages 125, 126}

He suggests to his Swiss brethren rules of conduct, to win to their side, if possible all the flocks in the midst of which they may be found, or if that does not succeed, to separate themselves from them as from "gnawing leprosy." He hides, under a very transparent veil, that he is speaking of the flocks of "Brethren," when he says that there is scarcely any means of reaching his end in great assemblies, because there are in them always brethren well taught and decided; but that there is more hope of gaining "the little churches of the villages." The pages quoted contain a curious appeal to the "Brethren," on which he makes sure of producing some effect, to act after the same principles, which he accuses other Christians of putting in practice; and he ends in a very curious way, by asking them to send him money, and by adding these words, "This will act as a visible bond between us; and what better bond could we desire?"

If that be the only subject of the tract, what necessity is there, it will be said, to draw thereon the attention of Christians? None, in reality; and if all ended there, silence would be enough. But to attain his object, Mr. Monsell treats of many subjects, which may disturb the hearts of "Brethren," and of very important points as regards the work of God; and it is well that brethren should know at the same time what is the object and foundation of all this. It is then on the subjects mentioned I desire to occupy myself.

136 For my part, I have a sincere respect for old dissenters. It is not for the sake of the system which they have sincerely and conscientiously followed, and which I have frankly and honestly opposed, because, instead of members of Christ, they would have members of a local church, and because they elect amongst themselves presidents; but I have not a single bitter feeling on the subject. I do not make it a subject of reproach. It was their conviction, a false conviction, in my opinion, but all that is gone by. That which makes me respect them, and that which for me is not gone by, is that, formerly, they suffered for the testimony of the Lord, an imperfect testimony it may be, but sincerely rendered to Him whom we all love. It is the turn of "Brethren" perhaps now; and there are some old dissenters who cordially joined themselves to them and who have suffered with them. I have a sincere respect for those who, whether they be still living, or whether they have already entered into rest, have suffered for the name of our common Lord. I hail with joy the faith of those who have taken part in the trials of their brethren of today. I do not wish to close my eyes to the new light which God has given me, and some of these dear brethren have, I believe, committed the fault of so doing. But their fault, I hope, is there, where are my own sins, at the bottom of the sea, out of the remembrance of our God, because of the blood of the Lamb.


Whilst totally leaving aside the attacks directed against the "Brethren," I will make in passing some remarks on the history which Mr. Monsell tells of Plymouthism, and which he has arranged so as to support his arguments. It is thoroughly inexact. The beginning of the "Brethren" was not, as he said, the isolated acts of several brethren in various places, and that too without any understanding between them. The meeting where, Mr. Monsell says, there were more of the Anglican clergy, than at the first meeting of the Evangelical Alliance,* had nothing in common with the meetings of the "Brethren." It was on the invitation of a single person, who received and lodged them in his own house, a meeting the object of which was the study of prophetic questions. Let us take note, however, of the largeness of heart recognized amongst brethren, and let us remember that the Lord Himself began by putting Himself within the reach of all; but He saw Himself limited to a small circle before He had accomplished His course. It is the special character of truth, which acts in love, to begin with a full and large heart, and to find itself soon enclosed within narrow bounds, by that which it meets with in the hearts of others. It is on a little flock that the heart of the Father rests. May brethren remember this, I do not pretend to say, that we were perfect, like Christ (we are very far from that), nor that the hostility of which we are the objects ought to be attributed solely to the pure malice of the adversaries. And, in encountering attacks such as those of Mr. Monsell, it is hard to keep the heart always large and open. I hope, nevertheless, that my brethren will take heed that it may be so. But, whatever love may be shewn by a witness to the truth, it remains no less true that his faithfulness will always have the effect which I have pointed out. {*Page 104.}

137 If one wishes to do things "on a large scale," of which the tract of Mr. Monsell expresses itself ambitious, then, in truth, we must recur to a totally different principle, to the one which the tract proclaims in these terms: "Take always the path where the least faith is needed." For in order to have great numbers, forsooth it needs be, either that God act upon the masses themselves by a spirit of power, or that we should lower the demands of our walk to the measure of the great number, that is to say, to a very low measure of faith. That is the principle which Mr. Monsell avows and recommends. It is the foundation of his tract. For my part I can say that my principles have not changed. That which I published, when I was leaving nationalism, on the nature and unity of the Church of Christ," is still what satisfies me most of all that has appeared on this subject, and it is totally opposed to the principles of union announced by Mr. Monsell.

To return to the history of brethren, all the story which Mr. Monsell makes up of the connection between the little flocks is but the product of his own imagination.

138 It was I who suggested the work of evangelization which was called the Home Mission, although it is true, when the work was once set going, that the national minister (to whom Mr. M. makes allusion) took a much larger part in it than I did, through the energy of his character. To avoid struggles with the Anglican clergy, he had begun missionary meetings, and I succeeded in turning them into preaching. There was no committee. When the work extended, he went, unknown to me, to entrust it to the ministers of the National Church, binding himself to put the laity aside, expecting that my interest in the work and the large-heartedness I had shewn would lead me to remain in it. I refused to do so; and shortly after the bishops and ministers counted the work of little value, and the evangelization drooped. Thanks be to God, the energy is renewed in the midst of brethren.

The mission of Tinnevelly never was, as Mr. M. declares, in the hands of brethren. Mr. Rhenius, who was wonderfully blessed there, Mr. Schmidt, and, if I am not mistaken, two other missionaries withdrew themselves from the yoke of the Anglican Church, because obedience to ordination according to the Anglican liturgy, and other like things, was imposed on them. That awoke a marked interest amongst brethren, and it was natural. The grief which Mr. Rhenius underwent in consequence of the conduct of the Anglican Society brought on his death, and the Mission again returned into the sphere of the Society.

We shall find, towards the end of this tract, the history of that which Mr. M. calls the Plymouth schism.

It is not necessary to follow farther the history of brethren which Mr. M. gives, in the midst of whom he did not enter till seven years after the beginning of the work.

I do not contest the point, that in Congregationalism there was at first liberty of ministry, but that had scarcely any duration. That liberty has existed and still exists among Quakers; but whilst admitting the liberty of ministry, the work of the brethren rests on much broader foundations. While taking as a foundation the great truths of the gospel, here are the principles which distinguish it: the unity of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit come down from above, the witness of a perfect redemption, accomplished by Him who is seated there at the right hand of the Father. It is by reason of the presence of this Spirit, acting in the members, that there is liberty of ministry according to the measure of His energy and of His gifts (a liberty regulated by the word).

139 This is the first principle (a principle of which Mr. M. will not recognize even the existence, as I will shew). It is on this foundation* that we meet, admitting in consequence every Christian.

{*The fact is that we met by the power of grace, according to the liberty of the Spirit of God, with no settled system; but at bottom, it is that which I have just pointed out, which served as the principle of meeting. The first time was at Dublin; we were four brethren.}

The energy of the testimony rendered to the second advent of the Lord Jesus has in practice distinguished brethren. The work has been the result of an energy which came from God; and certainly the knowledge of the revelation of God in His word increased by that means. Practical faithfulness in renouncing the world is, perhaps, that which has most marked it. The knowledge of the word, I am persuaded, has been a consequence of it. But the two principles just pointed out have particularly distinguished the work. Perhaps we should rather say that the things which have distinguished it have been the study of the ways of God in His word in every respect, complete separation from the world, and free and active evangelization.

What Mr. M. says (p. 27, art. 6) is not exact: examination of this can be made when we consider the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

As to the article 8, p. 28, to say that the Plymouth brethren (a name, moreover, which I do not accept) have a special mission to call on the faithful to leave their different denominations, etc., is to advance a statement devoid of foundation. Mr. Irving said the contrary; and he considered the fact that we did not seek to draw the world to us, as a proof that we were not in the truth. To seek the world is, I am persuaded, a false path. Besides, the walk which I follow is a walk of faith; and if any one has not faith which compels him to follow it, he would do better to remain quiet. But it is always true that the power of a new truth detaches those who embrace it from the system which rejects it. That is what has happened in England and Switzerland.

No more is there any ground to say (art. 9) that our "new foundation" is "that of testimony against the apostasy." Let us remember that Mr. M. himself admits the apostasy; and he feels that he cannot act on souls without admitting it. If then there is an apostasy, or "universal disorder," it is clear that those who come out of that disorder, and who meet outside that state of things, are on a foundation which by the very fact of their meeting renders testimony against that disorder; but it is not the testimony rendered against that disorder which is the foundation on which they meet.

140 As regards the ecclesiastical organization, we will refer to it farther on. I will allow myself here one observation. As to the reader who has some taste of the things of God, can he run through the articles in which Mr. M. has depicted that which he calls Plymouthism, and the principles which Plymouthism has put forward, and believe that the absence of organization is what distinguishes it?

However biting that which Mr. M. has said of it may be, it will do us, with upright souls, more good than harm. He has also answered for us the "Examination" of a minister of Neufchatel, shewing that elder and pastor are two different things, and bringing out the difference between the ministry and charges, as well as between gifts and charges, with more clearness than I had done. Finally, he has completely overturned the new Genevese system, shewing it to be clearly antiscriptural, by a deduction drawn from a string of passages, a deduction which I will sum up in Mr. M.'s own words: "I then regard all nominations of ministers of the word as an infringement on divine order."*

{*Page 144.}


This brings us to a grave matter, and one worthy of the serious attention of Christians.

Whilst developing, with much clearness and force, the proof of the doctrine which brethren profess, concerning ministry and charges (except one point which I will notice farther on), Mr. M., in order to give weight to his right to establish a system and to bring brethren into it, lays as a foundation the denial of what is much more essential than the liberty of ministry itself, of that which alone gives any value to that truth. He employs the truth about the ministry (truth which souls taste more and more) in order to deny that which is much more important - the true unity of the Church, and in order to justify the sects and the endless subdivisions of the Church under the influence of some principle, whatever it may be; and to gain his end, he effaces the boundaries of good and evil, and saps the foundation of Christian faithfulness.

141 It is the moral character of his tract, it is the absence of all trace of the influence of the Spirit of God, which touches me most deeply (for I have known Mr. M. well), but one would not fail to accuse me of prejudice if I insisted on that; and this tract has made me greatly doubt as to his faith on the capital point of the presence of the Holy Spirit. But I will occupy myself with the subjects I have pointed out.

And, first, Mr. M. denies, whilst he ignores the root of that truth, the unity of the Church of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit to produce that unity.

The unity of Christians, says he, consists in their participation of a common life.

If that is so, we can have unity without the existence of a body, and the unity of Christians exists without there being a body, being all the while scattered on the face of the earth without any union, and each one being left to his own individuality. We can, if we meet each other, experience life and mutual affections, but no unity.

The word of God says, "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," 1 Cor. 12:13. But, for the object which Mr. M. lays before himself, it is enough that unity be limited to common affections, and that divisions continue among Christians.

He says again, in speaking of Christians, "Their affections and common sympathies are the result of a life communicated to their souls by the Holy Spirit, which has made them partakers of the divine nature."

So, that which he has in view is not the presence of the Holy Spirit, which makes of them one body. The author does not see Christians "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit," Eph. 2:22.

Mr. M. says again, "The intimate and hidden unity shews itself by a visible union" (these are indeed the terms on which the truth expresses itself; and nevertheless it is to reduce it, in that which follows, to some personal and individual feelings), "as the soul makes itself felt through the body and its organs!" And what is that unity, visible as the body is? "Taught by God to love one another, Christians love, as Christ, with a love that shews itself; imitators of God as His dear children, they walk* in love." All unity, that is to say, even visible unity, is the affection and conduct of the individual. It is to deceive oneself, it is to deceive souls in the most serious matters, thus to delude oneself with regard to the sense of the words employed by the Holy Spirit. Let the reader glance through the whole page, whence these quotations are taken, and he will there find the confirmation of what I have advanced.

{*The italics are Mr. M.'s.}

142 Is this, then, unity manifested by a visible union? or is it merely employing the expression of a scriptural truth to turn aside a soul from the true force of that truth?

The effect of this is to draw persons away, without the soul perceiving it, from the thought of God on the subject of unity, whilst it supposes that it possesses that truth, because, in speaking to them of it, use has been made of the very terms meant to communicate it.

In the next page the system appears already.

"Each converted soul becomes a member of the universal Church." What universal Church? of the body of Christ here below? By no means. Paul speaks "of the Ephesians, as members of the Church which has no limit as to place or as to time." The converted soul is "associated with the spirits of just men made perfect; it cannot either do them service," etc. Then we have a piece of nonsense, namely, that this "universal Church is divided into local churches, which are representatives and miniatures." For by universal church the author makes us take in all believers of all ages, dead or alive, a church which has no limit as to place or time. And thus is set aside the idea of a church upon the earth, baptized by one Spirit to be one body; and that was the object in view, and attention was turned away from scriptural truth on this subject, and fixed on churches,* which are the representatives of the universal church. In one word, the Church, such as the word shews it to us, is denied, in order to bring into prominence each flock as having the rights of the universal church, an expression and thought equally unknown to the word.

{*We shall see farther on that Mr. Monsell is content with many churches in one locality and with an infinite subdivision. The object here is to preserve in detail to any separate church the rights of the universal church; an idea which, after all, excludes every scriptural idea of the church, inasmuch as it excludes every thought of a body by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, seeing that the faithful of the Old Testament have never been thus united on the earth. Here are his words "Each flock being in a confined sphere, for a limited time, that which the universal church is until the last stone be laid."}

143 Let us listen again. "Union in Christ is then a moral work, destroying in proportion as it develops itself all egotism and pride." This has a very fine appearance; but read the Epistle to the Ephesians and 1 Corinthians 12, and you will see whether that which the author says has any reference to the thoughts expressed in the word of God.

The idea of a family is very sweet, and I am not opposed to such affections, for we are brethren; but that is not the thought of the word on the subject of the unity of the Church. "We are all one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread."

If the words of men take from me the truth of God, the sweeter they are, they are the worse, and more deceitful.

Now then you will understand, reader, what this language means: union in Christ manifested in the Church by means of local churches. Union is a moral work in the individual. Manifested in the Church means acting in individuals, so far as their souls belong to the universal church, and that, in affections and common sympathies between the Christians of one locality.

Well, I do not hesitate to say that it is immoral thus to employ such expressions in order to delude others on subjects of which the word of God speaks, by the apparent use of the terms it employs. What I call immoral is to make use of gracious and sentimental words to lead the heart of Christians to attach a meaning to words which are used to express Christian truths, for the very purpose of excluding those truths by letting the deluded soul think that it is in possession of all that scripture teaches by these words. Take up the pages of Mr. M. and see if the expressions of union in Christ, of union manifested in the Church, or even of local churches, have in them the same meaning which the infinitely precious truths have which these words contain if we consult the word.

I pursue my subject. We have seen the ideas which are set up to prepare minds to receive the system. Now we will look at the system itself. I accuse this system of a denial of the unity of the Church and of the presence of the Holy Spirit who has created it.

"The unity of Israel manifested itself in the assembly of a whole people surrounding the one altar. Let this people be scattered or even the altar defiled, for the moment all is lost. Our unity, the symbol of which is not one candlestick, but seven, is less massive and more diversified. The temple has not been replaced by another building, but by numerous tents which collectively form one camp." He quotes Exodus 25:31; Zechariah 4:2; Revelation 1:12-13, 20. Thus the author puts entirely aside, from one end to the other, the doctrine of the epistles on the subject; and the epistles are that part of the word which reveals the direct relationship between the Father, and Christ as Head of the body, with the Church, and which speaks of it. To introduce this part of the word would be to overthrow from top to bottom the author's system. Pay attention to that which he says, namely, that what replaces the temple is not another edifice but many tents. It is not saying that Christ, whilst judging it, bears with such a state of things; it is pretending to say what God would have done to replace the temple. Now I beg my reader to take, not the symbols of the Apocalypse (where a good number of Christians see a prophetic history of the successive states of the Church on the earth, and which, if it is not so, present to us seven local churches,* which gave an opportunity for judging the moral state of every church and even of every soul) to search in its prophecies what the Church is, putting aside all the teaching of the epistles; but to take the direct and positive revelation of those epistles, and to see there if that which God has announced to him is not the Church as the body of Christ, one on the earth by the baptism of the Holy Spirit come down from heaven. We by no means deny local churches. Mr. M. gets rid of them, as we shall see. The word maintains also the local unity.

{*The reader will remember that the number "seven" gives the idea of something complete.}

144 Mark also that in the Apocalypse the Lord is not presented to us in the position in which the epistles reveal Him to us. The epistles tell us of Jesus gone on high, Head of a body and communicating power and grace to that body. In the Apocalypse we do not even see Jesus in His character of Son over His own house. He there presents Himself as judging, a priestly judge it may be, but as Son of man, Judge in the midst of the churches. There is no question at all of union with Christ. Now all this precious truth of the actual union of Christ with His Church, as well as that of His members one with another by the Holy Spirit, is set aside in order that souls may content themselves with that which none dare justify (that is to say, the actual state of Christians).

145 The meaning of the work of Mr. M. comes to this: Do not look too much at that ideal beauty; do not fill your head with that which the word speaks of, and I will present something to you which will do well, for we cannot have things on earth as they ought to be. We must find a walk in which we need the smallest possible amount of faith.

Christians! are you content with that?

Besides, Mr. M. lays down in principle that which I maintained in my argument with our brother Rochat, now at rest. "We are," says he, "members of the universal* Church and of the local church by the very fact of our Christianity."

{*Having already spoken of the expression "universal Church," one always used to put aside the body of Christ, I shall not revert to it. The word of God always speaks of the members of the body of Christ, a body formed by the coming down of the Holy Ghost here below, and until now recognised only on earth. This body will be manifested in its fulness at the return of Christ.}

Immediately after that, Mr. M. gives us a justification of sects, and an apology for the destruction of local unity, which he holds as of slight account, just as he has put aside the body of Christ. "Let this manifestation," says he, "be made by a single faithful assembly, or by many assemblies having different surnames, but having full liberty of mutual communion as a body, it comes to the same thing. That church or aggregate of those churches forms the manifestation of the Church of God in that place."

Now I ask, if the word of God furnishes us with a trace of anything like this, and if it is not very positively condemned as a carnal thing? If one says, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos (that is to say, if there are different surnames), no matter: according to Mr. M. that comes to the same thing. But what says the word? "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Greek nor Barbarian; we are all one in Jesus Christ."

Farther on, the author excludes again the presence of the Holy Ghost, in order to make the union to rest on a state of soul. "I am," says he, "attached to my brethren by the work of God in them and in me … I submit myself to the laws and to the spirit of a society established by the Lord Jesus."

What a difference between this language and that of the word of God! "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." "Now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." "Now are they many members, yet but one body." "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body."

146 And here, dear reader, give your attention to this. It is sought to establish a distinction between the gifts of the day of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit the Comforter, of whom the Apostle John speaks; and Mr. M. avails himself of the words of Peter, "That which you now see and hear," in order to contrast them with the words of the Lord, "Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not," for the purpose of making a distinction between the Spirit such as we have it, as the Spirit of grace, and the Spirit as it was with the disciples.* Now what was promised by Jesus was the Comforter, whom, when on high, He would ask of the Father, and whom, from on high, He would send to His own. ** After the resurrection, He told the disciples to wait at Jerusalem the fulfilment of "the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard from me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Compare Matthew 3:11.) Now they had heard from Jesus the promise of the Comforter which the Father would send; John 16. On the day of Pentecost Peter says, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear," Acts 2:32-33. Now, it is by this very Spirit, the promise of the Father, of which Jesus spoke (John 14, 15, 16), that we all are baptized to be one body. And the words "Ye now see and hear," in the mouth of Peter, say nothing of what Mr. M. speaks of. The tongues, etc., were "the manifestation of the Spirit"; and it was that which the world saw and heard.

{*Page 107.}

{**In John 14, Christ, Mediator, asks the Holy Ghost of the Father, who sends Him; in chapter 15, Christ in His personal glory on high sends Him; in chapter 16, the Holy Ghost is here below in the disciples, and He will tell the things He has heard.}

Now I ask, if the Holy Spirit produces in us good works; and I find that it is written, "That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." And I say, Would it be in accordance with the Spirit and the word to say, Ah! that cannot be the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of grace and as the Comforter, because the world does not see Him. We are the epistle of Christ, written by the Spirit of the living God, known and read by all the world. Is this again not the promise of the Father? And again: the Comforter would speak in them, and would shew to them things to come. Was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which did that, totally distinct from that indwelling which made Him to be a Spirit of grace?

147 I fully admit the difference between the graces and the gifts; but I do not admit it to put aside that baptism which makes the unity of the body - a mould in which the Christian affections are formed according to the word, or to make these affections to be simply gracious feelings.

In speaking of ministry, Mr. Monsell could very well quote the most striking passages which relate to the body of Christ, and so he seems not to neglect them. Why then put them aside when the question is concerning the union of the members?

Mr. M. says again, "The Church, being composed of men, is a human society."

Is it thus that the word speaks of it? The Church is not solely composed of men. It has for its Head, Christ; and the Holy Spirit is there, and He it is who makes its unity; so that to say it is a human society is to make an allegation which totally falsifies the idea which God gives of it.

Are the bonds of this society human? Is that which makes it a society human? By no means. That which makes it a society is the Holy Spirit. This assertion of Mr. M., that the Church is a human society, betrays plainly the exclusion of the Holy Spirit from his system on the Church For if the presence of God forms this society, to say, because men are in it, that the society is a human one, is to put man above God; and it is to make that which is the object of the senses prevail over the presence of Him who is the object of faith alone - a presence which, for faith, characterizes this society - a presence without which it has no existence.

Mr. M. says, "The members of the faithful churches have before them the ideal of the Church, of the heavenly families on the earth."* A very nice thought it may be. But I appeal to the epistle to the Ephesians; to that to Romans, chapter 12; 1 Corinthians 12; to 1 Timothy 3 15; and I say, that this description of yours is not at all the ideal of the Church according to the word.

{*Page 123.}

148 In refuting a thought of the "Coup d'oeil," Mr. M. thus expresses himself: "To say that the Church is become quite invisible, is to say that the world can no longer perceive that there are Christians."* Here all idea of unity and of union according to the word is totally destroyed. The Church is made no more than a moral state of the individuals - that it was not the gathering together in one the children of God which were scattered abroad.

{*Page 139.}

Is the Church then no longer visible? asks Mr. M. "Yes," says he. "It is to be seen in all those who profess and know the Saviour." *This is to say that the existence of scattered individuals is the manifestation of a body.

{*Page 140}

But Mr. M. goes farther. "The apostolic church," says he, "was visible solely because it shewed forth the virtues of the Saviour; and, now too, there are souls, who, in a feeble measure, are the witnesses of Christ. Why not call the same things by the same name, in the past as well as in the nineteenth century?"

This is a formal denial of all the doctrine of the word. Did God put apostles in souls? Did He put gifts of healing in a soul? You may exclaim, if you will, You take up things in such a way! Yes; I take things quietly, as I find them in the word, and I say that you put aside and deny the unity of the Church of God and all the doctrine of the word. Mr. M. says I confound catholicism of form with the unity of the Spirit. Take the unity of a man; in what does it consist? I do not speak of uniformity of organization. I speak of the unity of the body. There is one Spirit and one body, one body on the earth; Eph. 4. Your unity of the spirit* consists only in some good feelings in individuals. It is not that of which the word tells us. It tells us of being builded together for an habitation of God by the Spirit. And for empty words I will not consent to give up the word of my God, and the body of which Christ is the Head.

{*It is important here to give its full force to this expression, "The unity of the Spirit." This unity is in no wise as Mr. M. presents it to us, a matter of feeling. The unity of the Spirit is the unity which flows from this, that the One Spirit has united the members in Jesus in one body. Look at the Epistle to the Ephesians. God has established Christ "to be the head over all things," and Head of the Church "which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." That is to say, that the Church, as a body, is the complement of the Head, which is Christ. He has quickened us together with Him - Jews and Gentiles also together. He has made us, as Christians, sit together with Him in the heavenly places. "For to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body … Now therefore ye [Gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of the New Testament. See Ephesians 3:5], Jesus Christ being himself the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord [this is what has replaced the destroyed temple]: in whom ye [Gentiles] also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" Such is the unity of the Spirit, which in chapter 4 He exhorts the faithful to keep, by recalling to them that there was one Spirit and one body. And mark here that the descent of the Spirit, the power of unity for the body, is in such a way before the eyes of the apostle (and that founded on this, that Christ is gone on high) that he only knows the apostles in the Church as given, after the ascension, by Christ, the Head of the body. (See also 1 Corinthians 12.) There the unity of the Spirit is not so much in contrast with the previous separation of Jews and Gentiles as with the plurality of demons. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit … But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body [whether Jews or Gentiles]. "Now ye are the body of Christ."

Such then is the unity of the Spirit, a reality in the power of God, and not merely feelings in man. The bond of peace is in order to keep this unity.}

149 I have not taken, in the tract of Mr. M. one isolated passage, the sense of which one might be in danger of wresting. I have reproduced a crowd of passages from his tract, which shew that he denies, and that the object of his labour is to deny, the doctrine of the word on the subject of the unity of the Church, of the body of Christ. He denies it in a clever manner, I allow. And in order not to have the appearance of putting aside the passages of the word which teach this truth, he quotes them, but for another purpose - that of explaining the gifts of ministry. But he carefully denies the truth with which we have been occupied. The object of Mr. M. is to accept and justify the actual subdivision of the Church.

After many pages, in which Mr. M. seeks to justify denominations, and in which he attacks severely those who call them sects, and that with justice, insomuch as they have for their foundation a particular opinion, he says, "I do not hide from myself that in saying that one must accept our present subdivision, I bind myself implicitly to accept new subdivisions."*

{*Page 41.}

150 Well, I can weep; I may feel myself incapable perhaps of repairing the evil; but I cannot accept sin before God, nor pledge myself to accept it at some later time.


I now come to ministry. I think that the work* of Mr. Monsell on this subject may perhaps be of much use, and that so much the more, as emanating from an adversary.

{*We can sum up the substance of this work in a few sentences. Having quoted many passages, Mr. M. says, page 63, "One asks oneself, Where is the regular ministry? The fact is, there is none, in the ordinary sense of the word. A body of men set apart for public religious instruction would have been an innovation totally opposed, even to the ideas of the Jews in apostolic times, and still more to those of Christians."

And page 65, "Let people shew me one single ordination, then I will believe all the others. To say that some of these men had miraculous gifts makes no difference to the question." And again, page 144 "I regard then all nomination of the ministers of the word as an infringement on the divine order." (Mr. M.'s italics.) "One may put oneself on the ground of divine right or of human order. It may be the Anglican priest in white, or the 'inevitable man in black,' or again, the Dissenting minister slipping in as if smuggled in under the cloak of the biblical elder. All nomination for speaking in worship is an evil." It appears that Mr. M. does not attach much importance at least to infringements on divine order.}

He overthrows the system of our other adversaries with much clearness and logical consequence. As to elders, I think his work may be also very useful. I scarcely see anything except the point of the investiture of the elders, on which I have any remarks to make.

As regards elders, the imposition of hands is insisted on, election by the faithful or by a presbytery; and they are not content with their practical existence, even when they are owned with thanksgiving before God.

Let us see what Mr. M. admits on these points, as the result of his study - a result at which I have arrived, and which the adversaries of brethren are one after the other forced to admit.

Mr. M. says on the subject of elders, "At most we can only guess that their installation was accompanied with the imposition of hands: finally, no positive measure was taken to render this institution permanent … The meaning of so marked an indifference is evident, when we remember that the fundamental corruption of Christianity was to be the transformation of these officers into an order of priests, resting its pretensions on apostolical succession.*

{*Pages 92, 93.}

151 It is certain in effect that the word does not contain one word about the imposition of hands, so far as being laid on elders is concerned. What precious care is that which God takes of His Church, and that in all times! According to the customs of those times I have little doubt that hands were laid on the elders; but the Holy Ghost, who foresees everything, and who knows what He ought to say and what He ought to omit, carefully avoided stating it (and for my part I have no doubt that the reason given by Mr. M. is the true one, as also for that which concerns the virgin Mary). The Spirit of God, I say, avoided carefully giving a statement as to the imposition of hands on elders, in the inspired word, our one and only guide; and now, in contempt of His wisdom and goodness, men try to impose upon us the thing which God in His goodness, has taken care to pass over in silence, in that which He has preserved for us and handed down for the blessing of the Church in all times.

I do not insist on the strange consequence which Mr. M. draws, both from the fears of this abuse and from the determination which he has formed to have the imposition of hands, in order to keep up appearances for the flesh. "Take," says he, * "for ordaining, those who are the least esteemed in the Church." And nevertheless, he would prefer it should be those who possessed its respect. It is nothing but the natural consequence of departing from the wisdom of the word; but I confine myself to insisting on the fact that imposition of hands on elders is nowhere found in the word.

{*Page 94.}

"I think," says also Mr. M.,* "with one of the opponents of Mr. Darby, that the institutions of the Apostolical Church are not an absolute model. Therefore I do not insist on the establishment of elders as on a command of God."

{*Page 144.}

Hence Mr. M. does not try to shew a passage where the word declares that some must be established; at the same time he declares that nothing is said on the mode of their establishment. He even adds,* "we know neither where, nor when, nor why, nor how this religious magistracy was established." There is not the slightest allusion to an official source of this authority; he dares not insinuate that the people chose them.

{*Page 92.}

152 Mr. M. touches upon the accusation made against him of establishing the democratic principle.* His answer may be read: it is very insignificant. He agrees that he cannot "present as being of divine authority," the system he wishes to establish. To present it as such, would be, he adds, "to deprive the bride of her privilege of ordering the house of God according to the wisdom He gives her day by day, as directed by His Spirit and enjoying His fellowship … and were it not for the conviction which I have of the practical advantages of primitive episcopacy, I would adhere fully to these words (of Mr. Scherer): 'The meaning of the apostolic example is confined for us to a very general indication of the propriety or necessity of the direction of the Church by some of its members.'"

{*Page 96.}

We see what place the word of God holds in these theories.

Mr. M. avoids all discussion on Acts 14:23. On the other hand, he admits that Titus was sent to Crete, not to recognize elders, but to establish them there.* This is to allow that, in the only case where we find in the word anything precise, it is the apostles and their delegates who alone establish, an important principle where gifts are not in question. And here is the reason: Christ is "Son over his own house." Authority comes from Him, and the bride cannot confer it. It is not a question (and on that we are agreed) of ministry, but of government, of authority, of oversight. Now Christ alone is Head, as the man is of the woman. Christ not only gives gifts; He, further, established the twelve and that was a charge. Paul received his authority from Christ. He commits a charge to Timothy who had been designated by prophecies; he leaves Titus in Crete to establish elders. These are not merely isolated facts, but a chain of facts, which flow from the principle that authority belongs to Christ, and that Christ is "Son over his own house."

{*Page 84.}

Now Mr. M: confesses that there is a "universal disorder" - "apostasy" - "the very strongest thing that can be said in any language."* He confesses that nothing has been said of the permanence of this institution of elders; that this silence of the word is intentional, because this institution was to become the great corruption of the Church, as it has become in truth. And mark this, that there is a parcelling out of the Church, and that, in consequence, if one pretends to establish elders, they will be elders, not of the flock of God, but of a little sect which must have taken from its own bosom persons such as it has been able to find there. Such elders can in nowise answer to that which we have in Acts. It cannot be said to them, "to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" - "all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers."

{*Page 47.}

153 Is nothing more told us then in the word of God on the subject of elders and of the guidance of the flock?

Let us examine again the tract of Mr. M.

We read there,* "The silent establishment of elders, whose existence is revealed to us only incidentally, is a proof of the small importance attached to these things."

{*Page 72.}

That is to say, that elders held their office without our finding any indication of their official establishment. This is the more easy to understand, as Peter, writing to the Jews of the dispersion, shews us that the idea he had of an elder was not at all that of a man officially established. He, himself an elder, wrote to those amongst them who were elders, and he adds (1 Peter 5:5), "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder." It is exactly that which would be equivalent to the expression of a president by seniority in age. He contrasts the younger and the elder (neoteroi, presbuterois). That is to say, we have the certainty that Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, did not use the word "elder" to indicate men officially established, but men to whom their age, and the experience which accompanied it, gave a moral weight in contrast with younger men. And it is precisely in this way that the elders at Jerusalem are presented in Acts 15.

As Mr. M. acknowledges,* we have no proof that there were elders at Antioch. And he adds, "Six years after the introduction of the gospel at Corinth, the church appears not to have had as yet any more formal government than the moral influence of those who devoted themselves to the work of the Lord; 1 Cor. 16:15-16. The following year the isolated church at Rome was, to all appearance, in the same situation. The leadership was, then still as the exercise of a gift (Rom. 12:8) without having become a regular charge." He says again,** "Those who had spoken to the flock the word of God, were by right its leaders," Heb. 13:7. {*Page 74.}

{**Page 79.}

154 That is to say, we have a crowd of passages which shew us very clearly the position of an elder, leader, and president, as founded on his moral weight and on the gifts, without nomination or official establishment. To those which Mr. M. quotes I would add 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake."

We have then in the word of God a position recognized without controversy, and valid without any other question, wherever it is found.* Whilst we fully admit that this was apostolic experience, and that the system of official elders was only established at the end of about thirty years, Mr. Monsell blames us for wishing to go over this experience again.** He tell us that in proportion to the growth of the evil, this system was "laid as a necessity on the apostle," particularly on Paul. For my part, I do not oppose this idea, although it appears that even at the beginning Paul established elders; Acts 14. But admitting this, what does this fact shew? It shews that in proportion as the evil was increasing, and at the same time the desire of glorifying the Lord, love and interest for the things of Christ, were diminishing, it became necessary that certain persons should be possessed with an authority, which, resting on an investiture which none would dare dispute, might impose silence on every disobedient soul. And thus it is that we find apostles who establish; a Titus who is expressly sent to do so; a Timothy who might be called to receive accusations against elders; but all here depends on the fact that the source of the authority is incontestable. Such was indeed the case with the apostles, and with those who in case of need might appeal to the epistles to Titus and Timothy.

{*It is this which shews how utterly without basis the anonymous author of the tract "Are Elders to be Established?" is, when he declares that elders cannot be obeyed unless they have been established by men, and how completely antiscriptural such a statement is.}

{**Page 98.}

But all does not end thus.

"In proportion," says Mr. M.,* "that death laid hold on the Church, the elders exclusively arrogated teaching to themselves,** and ministry was confounded with office. When they had become a corporation, the ambition of power shewed itself among them (a universal rule of corporations): the members of the clergy compared themselves to the priests of the Old Testament, and their functions to all that was already most honoured amongst men - hence the word "sacrament." Then came in salvation by means of ceremonies and forgiveness of sins by priests."***

{*Page 81.}

{**This is, unintentionally, the exact picture of the Free Churches of Geneva and Vaud, and at the same time an answer to the "Examination," by a minister of Neufchatel.}

{***The effect of this on the question, explains why the fall of the church has been made so prominent by this discussion, although this fall was not in the least degree the doctrine which served as a foundation for the contested position.}

155 I do not carry out this picture farther. Mr. M. tells us that we do wrong to go farther back than the state of youth of the Philippian church, to the childhood of that of Thessalonica and Corinth. But this is not the question. Infancy and youth are long gone  by; and now the question is to know if, in this decrepit state of corrupted old age, of which he gives us the picture, we can return to youth, and do that which the apostles did by the authority of Christ, to bridle the will of man by a recognized authority, and recognized because it flowed incontestably from the authority of Christ over His own house, and because according to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit it answered to that which such a position demands. All depends here on the incontestable authority of the Establisher.

On the other hand, we find that in fact the word of God invests morally with its authority, that is to say, with the authority of God, those who, without having been, in the same way, officially established, can, if God raises them up, act on this ground according to their capacity, wherever they may be found, were it even in the midst of a dozen brethren gathered together.

Well! we have recognized the goodness of God in that, without pretending to appoint elders with an authority which shuts the mouth of the refractory by the very fact of their nomination, as the apostles did, to whom Christ had entrusted the rod in the Church. Who will do so now?

If you appoint elders, and if I dispute their authority, you can only maintain it on the footing of moral authority, which will shew, that it is the flesh in me that disputes it. You are, in spite of yourself, on the same footing as I am, unless your act be the fruit of a sect and that you make it a condition of entrance into the flock.

156 But in reality, as to the care of which we speak, is it found amongst the brethren? It is possible that they have not known how to profit by it everywhere as they ought. But let us leave Mr. M. to speak on this point: "In Switzerland," says he, "and in English towns, the lead falls to those who put themselves in the van (oi proistamenoi), very often devoted, wise, and spiritual men." And that is so true, that in his efforts to overthrow the flocks of Switzerland, and in the directions he gives to those who may be inclined to lend a hand to him to this end, he avows that he despairs of success with regard to the large churches: "these," says he, "are led in general by a little knot* of brethren, whose intellectual activity has enabled them to grasp these sacred theories." Mr. M. hopes that the little churches of the villages** will be less sheltered from his efforts.

{*Page 131.}

{**It is singular that he proposes to them to remain thus. Page 132.}

I say nothing of all this part of Mr. M.'s tract, because I do not think that there is one single spiritual soul who does not judge its spirit. One can pardon and pray for the author. If there be any spiritual energy, people will be secured from all his attempts; if there be none, one is always, alas! the prey of such attacks. At least there is straightforwardness in warning us of what he desires to do. Whether it is God who has forced him to this or whether it be irritation, this is certain, that God intended to warn the brethren of it.

Mr. M. finds fault with us, because in the British Isles the guidance of the country assemblies is almost always in the hands of some great or small landowner in the neighbourhood.* Thus is a thing I was ignorant of up to this moment; and yet I have been there more than he has. That might easily happen. I can assure my reader that I have thought of it, and that I cannot remember one single example of that which Mr. M. says is nearly always the case, without bringing forward a single instance: and yet I know the work pretty well. For my part, I think that brethren might, or at least that the grace of God could, give more energy to this part of the work. It demands patience, self-denial, a subdued flesh, the consciousness that one is acting with Christ and an ardent desire for His glory in the Church. But, in truth, it is a work which brings its own reward with it. It is a joy, if it is also a toil, to watch that souls, dear to the Lord, may walk well before Him. If there be not this love and feeling of responsibility, one can only do harm in meddling with the office.

{*Page 78.}

157 I should still have many remarks to offer on the arguments of Mr. M. but I shall not go farther into details on this subject.

To say that Titus was sent to Crete because the churches had not yet made for themselves bishops, is to wrest the word by adding to it one's own inventions. If authority were not necessary to set right those things which remained unordered and to establish elders, why not write to the churches? To dispute the necessity of that authority, is to admit an argument or an insinuation which destroys itself.

I have never read the tract of Mr. Vermont. But the only thing which, in that part which Mr. M. quotes, has struck me as extraordinary, is the very thing which he adopts himself, whilst pitying "those poor brethren at Plymouth" for having such an idea, namely, to be contented with separation if one does not agree. It is enough to compare the expression of his commiseration in page 58, with what he says in page 61. But I do not think that the dear brother who wrote "Mr. Vermont" pretends to render the brethren responsible for what may be there.

I think that Mr. M. is right in combating Mr. Beverly [-ley?] when he denies that the word "deacon" is employed officially. The first Epistle to Timothy, as it seems to me, leaves no doubt as regards this. But there would be no profit for any one in our dwelling here on all these details.


With regard to the "Friendly Divisions," I must call attention to some principles enounced in the work which occupies us.

Mr. M.'s system is to recognize the division of the Church, and even further to subdivide it.

158 I pray the reader to remember that, according to Mr. M. the unity of the Spirit is only a community of feeling, which he puts in contrast with uniformity. The word of God speaks of the unity of the body of Christ. The practical spirit is called the bond of peace. This truth is set aside by Mr. M. There is indeed for him a universal Church; but Abraham is of it as much as we are, so that it has nothing in common with our actual duties.* There are churches; but, at the same time, every division whatever, provided one is content therewith, possesses all the rights of the universal Church. These fractions may take what surnames they like; that changes nothing.

{*Page 9.}

This system seems to me a system of sin, that is to say, it appears to me to sanction sin knowingly. The doctrine of the word is formally laid aside, and one may, with regard to these divisions, remain according to one's will in sin, provided that those who do it, be, whilst doing it, amiable towards one another, and that no hindrances be put in the way of those who do the same. Sanction us in sin, and we will leave you free to commit sin according to your will. Sin then, according to Mr. M. does not consist in acting against the will of God, but in doing it in a bad spirit? and in hindering others in doing it. The existence of evil being a necessity amongst men, we must put up with it. Not to be content with it, is only a generous but fatal idealism. To oppose sin engenders evil reports; what is essential is to pull together. The position is evil, without doubt; but the heart is good. This is the unity of the Spirit. Finally we must choose the road which demands the least degree of faith.

The reader shall judge for himself if I have exaggerated the principles enounced by Mr. M. I have given a summary of them and brought them together, that sound judgment may he formed on them. But the reader will find them all again in the extracts which I am going to communicate to him.

That one may be able to judge, I take for my point of departure the truth taught in the Epistle to the Ephesians: "There is one body and one Spirit." We are "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" - and 1 Corinthians 12: "For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body."

{*It is good that the reader should give heed to this word "baptized" in connection with the question, "What is the Church?" John the baptist said, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." After His resurrection the Lord Jesus says to His disciples, 'Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Pentecost therefore was that baptism. It is by this means then that we have been formed into one body. The Church, its unity, its existence as a body, all that is therefore the result of the descent of the Holy Ghost here below, of the baptism of the day of Pentecost. This is the unity, the body, the Church, which the word recognizes, and it recognizes no other. It is certain that the completeness of it shall be manifested in the day of Christ; but that which the word of God recognizes as the body, the unity, the Church, is that which is formed where the Holy Ghost is, that is, on the earth. As God, the Holy Ghost is everywhere. By His divine power, He will keep for glory the very dust of the blessed (Rom. 8:11). But as, whilst He was God, the Son descended here below, and that, with respect to the ways of God, His place was on the earth, so also the Holy Ghost has come down, and His place is on the earth. He speaks what He has heard. He forms the unity.

When once, by the grace of God, one has laid hold of this truth through faith, all becomes clear. This universal invisible Church, and arguments like those of Mr. Monsell, all this has - and for ever - lost its force.}

159 Mr. M. admits the facts. He is ignorant, at least I hope so, of the root of the truth.

Here is what he admits:

"The Christians of a given locality are members of the Church of that locality, by virtue of the word of God, and not of their own will."

"All Christians, then, in every part of the earth, where there are any, are members of the same Church, whether they know it or not; for the Bible does not recognize any other division of the universal Church but that of place or time - that division, in a word, which renders communion of believers amongst themselves impossible."*

{*Page 19.}

I do not admit that the word of God recognizes members of a local church. This is a truth which Mr. Rochat himself has recognized. We are members of the body of Christ, which is a perfectly different idea. I confine myself now to pointing it out, without dwelling upon it longer.

Mr. M. admits that the Bible does not recognize any other division than that of places.* That there are local churches (that is to say the gatherings of all the Christians of a place) is a truth which we all admit. I say then that, if Mr. M. recognizes others, he does it knowingly.

{*He adds "and of time"; but we need not at present be occupied with this, unless it be to beg the reader to recollect the principles established in the last note.}

160 This is how he presents the principle of brethren on the subject:

"The meeting of all Christians as one single denomination is the only way of manifesting their unity in Christ."*

{*Page 28.}

Thus the reader clearly sees that Mr. M. here reduces carefully the scriptural idea of the unity of the body of Christ to the idea of being gathered in one single denomination. All this is very grave.

For myself, I would say, Christians are bound to respect this precious and capital truth established in the word, namely, the unity of the Church which is the body of Christ. If they come short of this, they sin.

But, for the moment, let us be content with his way of expressing it.

Mr. M., farther on, gives us the following declaration: "Primitively Christendom consisted of one single denomination."*

{*Page 29.}

Always debasing the truth! This is Christendom. The idea of the Church is set aside, and with it the doctrine of the word of God as to the Church. But whatever may be the terms used, at least we have the frank avowal that brethren recognize what the word teaches. There existed at the beginning but one denomination. This is what is scriptural, and it is that which brethren seek. It is admitted that this no longer exists. Mr. M. adds: Mr. Darby declares that the unity which ought to exist, that the world might believe, exists no longer. And it is what Mr. M. does not deny, for he says, "The outward unity is no more."*

{*Page 35.}

Here then is what I call speaking with knowledge of the matter; and I say, since it is so, let us recognize every Christian in the unity of the body of which he is a member; but let us never recognize the division which is not according to the word, since, as you allow, the Bible recognized no other division than that of time and place. These divisions, such as we find them, are a sin. They shew that men are carnal, that they walk as men. This is the language of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. What is Mr. M.'s answer to it?

161 "Truth descends from heaven into a world of darkness and falsehood. Idealism, blind instinct of what ought to be, ignores this darkness. A degrading empiricism, which only sees what exists, accepts it (that is, this darkness). Christianity alone recognizes the hideous reality to oppose it."*

{*Page 30}

Passing over this idealism which he accuses us of, and the degrading empiricism which is content with sects such as they are, let us examine the happy medium proposed by the author.

"Let us remember that the Church of God could not remain in the dust of this earth without losing its primitive beauty and order."* That is to say, that, man being wicked and spoiling that which God has placed in his hands in a perfect state, we must reconcile ourselves to it.

{*Page 31.}

Let us remember here, that it is not a question of the darkness and falsehood of the natural state of man, on one hand, and on the other, of a Christianity which recognizes them and opposes them; but that the question is concerning a thing which God has established in the midst of this evil, and which He clothed with the beauty of its Head by the power of His Spirit - a thing the unity of which was to be a testimony in the midst of the evil. This thing is the Church of God. On the avowal of Mr. M. it has lost its primitive beauty and order.* What is to be done? We must know it could not remain on earth without losing them. That may be true. Neither could man remain on earth without losing his primitive state. Is that a reason to be satisfied with it? Ought he, although unable to get out of it, to reconcile himself with a state so sorrowful? Now, I do not admit, as regards the Church, that it cannot get out of its state of disunion, because the Holy Ghost suffices to produce the unity which is the object of His presence; whereas the object of His presence in us, individually, is to mortify the flesh, to crucify it, but not to remove it.

{*Mr. M. says also "we gain nothing by concealing from ourselves the truth" This so-called diversity is a deplorable state of disunion.}

But ought man to reconcile himself to his state, whatever it may be, so as to remain there and add to it more?

Here is Mr. M.'s answer:

162 "We must distinguish that which may be guilt in our hearts from that which is humbling and enfeebling in our position. To wish to do away at once with denominations, and to rank schism with material division, instead of ranking it with moral separation, is to fight against facts … is to deceive oneself in the direction of the employment of one's strength, and to expose oneself to fall into the sin of schism whilst one strives uselessly against the humiliation of ecclesiastical dispersion."*

{*Page 31.}

Let us remember that the author tells us that the Bible does not recognize this division; but, he adds, it exists, and one struggles in vain: it is to fight against facts.

But ought I to recognize and accept this division since the Bible does not recognize it? Yes, according to Mr. M., it is a fact (that is to say, the sin is a fact), against which we must not fight. And that of which they accuse brethren, is fighting against this sin, not recognizing that which the Bible does not recognize. According to Mr. M. the evil lies in the bitterness which may be produced by the testimony rendered to misunderstood truth; and schism with him consists, not in material division, but in moral division. So then, accept the division which the word does not recognize, and agree with others to commit this sin, and all will go well!

That is exaggerating the thought of Mr. M., people will exclaim.

This you will soon see. Let us listen to him:

"I do not conceal," says he,* "that in saying that one must accept our present division, I bind myself implicitly to accept new divisions … if then you are convinced … make a trial of it; with this object form a distinct assembly … that liberty which you refuse to all, we allow to each."

{*Page 41.}

In his accusation against brethren, he says:*

{*Page 61.}

"According to them, since every division into separate bodies springs from the sin of schism, in one way or another, they can only separate for the purpose of fulminating against each other; and yet they separate on slighter grounds than those who admit a friendly division!" The italics are Mr. M.'s.

As Mr. M. does not quote a single example of the fact which he imputes to us, I do not answer his accusation.

I believe, in effect, that every such dividing into separate bodies springs from the sin of schism, if that from which I separate is really the Church or is on the footing of the unity of the Church, even if there should be but a small number of persons.

163 But Mr. M. admits the "friendly divisions." That is to say, he admits that souls are not exercised as to this, and agree to remain in a position which the word of God does not recognize; he admits that, because, being on earth, this sin must necessarily have come in.

I do not attack other Christians; I find that it is a bad system. But to recognize, admit, accept, that which the word does not recognize, I confess that I am not altogether come to this, and that I am not come to say that outward sin is nothing, if the heart is not in it.

It is going too far, you will say, to consider the thing thus.

This is what I read in Mr. M.'s  tract:*

{*Page 35.}

"The reminiscences of Babel are become the organs of the Holy Spirit." It is, in effect, a special and magnificent token of the grace of God. What application does Mr. M. make of it? "May it be so still! The Church cannot begin its history again, and recover the unity which exists no more. All the efforts made to reunite Christians, in beginning by that which is outward, have only increased the bitterness of those differences* which exist, or created additional sects. We cannot escape from our humiliation; but, by the grace of God, we can avoid the sin which has associated itself therewith. Let us be but of one heart and one soul; it little matters then that we are no longer one single denomination [that is to say, the thing which, according to Mr. M.'s own avowal, God has established and which alone the Bible recognizes]. Grace has no need to overthrow the walls of separation, which it can rise above."

{*This is, in my opinion, a singular reason for establishing a system which as yet exists nowhere.}

This does not mean, have brotherly love towards every Christian, and receive him with open arms - language to which the heart should freely respond. It is to say, that we should remain in that which is contrary to the word of God, in outward sin, and that grace, without removing it, will rise above it!

And it is not the notion that, little by little, this division will cease: a false principle, because we are not to do evil that good may come. Nothing is more dangerous for the conscience, nor more destructive of all blessing, because this puts God aside.

164 The thought of Mr. M. is to accept the state which the word does not recognize, and then to expect blessing.

"No disunion," says he,* "can subsist before Him [the Holy Spirit] … Let the congregations of different faithful denominations [for multitudinist Christians must always remain outside**] be united in their Christian sympathies, as much as are the congregations of the same denomination; thus is the unity of the Spirit substituted for the uniformity of men."

{*Pages 35, 36.}

{**Page 36}

And as to the unity which God had established (the only one which the word recognizes) to speak of that is embittering. Let us leave it alone. It cannot be re-established here below. The Church of God was doomed to lose its primitive beauty and order. Is not this the exact meaning of Mr. M.'s expressions?

It is fatal idealism after all, if it be not generous; an idealism without conscience, which sets aside the word and shuns the humiliation of the conviction of sin.

And what is the argument by which Mr. M. sustains this principle?

God, in the plain of Shinar, judged the perverse and rebellious unity, which natural man was using to exalt himself against God, and to make himself a name, to the end that there should be no dispersion. The diversity of nations was and remains the result of this judgment of God. By the presence of His Spirit on earth, God has established a precious unity. Man, by his sin, has destroyed it; divisions and sects have taken the place of that unity. Let us place, according to Mr. M., the result of the judgment of God on a level with the sin of man, and let us keep both, as being equally His will. For what is the history of which Mr. M. speaks? By His power Jehovah confounded the folly of man; and the diversity, the confusion of tongues, which stamped upon it the name of Babel, recalls the judgment of God. The Holy Ghost finds men in this state. For a long period, one race alone worshipped Jehovah, the praises of whom rose up to Him in one language only, praises limited even by the restriction of the blessing which united round an earthly temple, a people who were not allowed to penetrate the veil, which hid their God from them. A perfect and eternal redemption has been accomplished, and the love of God flows out on every side, embraces all races of men, calls them to worship in the heavenly sanctuary, where the glory is manifested in the Person of Jesus with unveiled face, where the love of the Father does not hide itself, where it attracts and reveals itself. The Holy Ghost comes down to bear witness of it. He addresses Himself to all in all tongues. Grace adapts itself to man, to his heart as it is, by putting over and going beyond the barriers of legal ordinances. Lovely spectacle, in truth! Touching testimony of the heart of our God! A testimony which spoke a language that told everything to all. In the very effects of His judgments God finds the opportunity for the exercise of His grace.

165 But God did not stop there. The effect is stated in His word. In the sanctuary of God, in Christ, in the Church, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor bond nor free, nor Scythian nor barbarian. All are one. Providence has not changed the outward state of man. By the power of the Holy Ghost grace has united the redeemed in one body. The Church on earth is the result, in unity, of the presence of the Holy Ghost, which gathers together the redeemed. Man, wicked and perverse, has dispersed by his selfishness those whom God had gathered together. In other words, sin has done, as to the unity of God, that which the judgment of God had done as to the unity of man.

And they have the inconceivable boldness to bring these two things together, and to say, as regards the effect of sin, "Let it be so still!" Let the sin abide, in order that its results may become the organs of the Holy Ghost! And people have come to this.*

{*And see to what this amounts. Mr. M. hews down nationalism; which is "a guide to the ditch," (p. 13). According to him, again, the Free Church of the Canton de Vaud assembles "round a holy electoral urn" (p. 126). The Evangelical Church of Geneva is guilty of an infringement upon the divine order. The system of the minister of Neufchatel, the author of the "Examination," is not tenable according to the word. Besides, it is when death has laid hold of the Church that the actual institution has come in, that is to say, that the elders have monopolized the ministry. Then, after having shewn that all is antiscriptural, brethren are called on to submit to a system which places the sin of man on the same line with the judgment of God, and which wishes us to accept the one, as we submit ourselves to the other! Mr. M. sweeps away all other systems; let them protest if they think fit, we gladly leave to them all this debate. Meanwhile, we assuredly do not accept the horrid doctrine which the author puts in their place. The fact is that the only thing which Mr. M. leaves standing is the philosophical demirationalism of the journal "La Réformation," which teaches us that the word of God is no rule, except as to the truths necessary to salvation.

Our adversaries mutually overthrow each other. The journal "La Réformation" and Mr. M. overthrow the anonymous author of the tract "Are Elders to be Established?" and his commandments.

The anonymous author, in his turn, accuses the system upheld by "La Réformation," of disobedience. The minister of Neufchatel and Mr. M. mutually overthrow each other, and so with the others, and that too on the very points on which they attack brethren. I have but one counsel to give brethren: it is to leave these gentlemen to fight out these things between themselves, and to remain quiet, blessing God for His goodness, which gives them peace, and with all their heart to follow after Christ and His presence.}

166 "Mankind," says Mr. M. again, "have divided into many nations as Christendom into many churches. One common design, a providential design, shews itself, I think, in this double division." "The evangelical communions, notwithstanding the scandal of their differences, present a living Christendom, enclosed in the nominal Church, as the Japhetic races offer, in the midst of fallen humanity, a type less degraded than the others."

May God keep me from that philosophy in the things of God, in virtue of which one is taught to find in the patience of our God - who knows how to bring good out of evil - a justification of our sin; a philosophy which places the sad fruits of our sin, which has marred the work of God in its beauty and order, on a level with the judgment of God, which has confounded the insolence and perverse unity of man: which debases the grace, which has surmounted the barriers, which this just judgment had raised between men, and places it on a level with the perseverance of man in sin, a sin which subsists in the barriers and divisions, which man has established in the Church; a philosophy which casts back all this on Providence and which adds, "Let it still be so"; which, if we are not willing to accept this state of sin, calls it taking no account of that which God has already done; a philosophy, in fine, which says that sin does not consist in the fact that there are two congregations, but in the jealousy which possesses them; that is to say, that the sin committed is nothing and that it is to the heart one must look.

Mr. M. will say that all Christians of the same locality cannot meet in a place too small to hold all. Do they form, then, in this case, different denominations? Come! let us be straightforward.

167 This is the summary of these sad pages.

"The differences of denomination will subsist then as the differences of tongues subsist; but divine grace may make them harmless by restoring to the Church the consciousness of its unity."* This is saying that the judgment of God and sin are one and the same thing, and that while always keeping sin, sin will be made harmless by the grace of God.

{*Page 33.}

It is no wonder that with such principles, they make an attack on brethren. And, surely, whatever may have been the principles of our dissenting brethren, I cannot attribute to them such thoughts. And if even there were schism in theory, if even no one were admitted but on narrow views, and thus charity would suffer from it, this sin (schism) must be sought for where we look for all others, in the heart, not in theories. It is not a question of bearing with them, or non-intervention; sin is to be accepted and recognized. "In the present state of things, all Christians are forced to belong to sects in the ordinary sense of the word." [Page 44.]

For Mr. M., the state of Christendom in general is, "everything well considered, below that of the Jews at the time of a the Lord." He is "ready to call their state ruin, apostasy, or by any other term that you may choose in any language."* "The Gentiles have not continued."** "Christendom is an army which no longer knows the voice of its Head; and Dissenters, as faithful soldiers, have quitted the ranks to place themselves under the order of Jesus … Without doubt, it is a deplorable confusion." "When is it," he exclaims again, "that we shall learn all the extent of the universal disorder which surrounds us?"*** Mr. M. says that one might just as well look for sacrifice in paradise as to look for dissent in the apostolic churches: "For there is disorder in dissent - innocent disorder, become inevitable, in order to avoid culpable disorder. It is a violent remedy, and every serious remedy is a factitious evil inflicted to cure an illness still more serious."****

{*Page 47.}

{**Page 47.}

{***Page 53.}

{****Pages 53, 54.}

And what do these violent words lead to, a few lines further on - words which, like an overflowing torrent, overthrow everything, and even dissent itself? Look at this: "We should like … to walk under our banners and surround our Head; but, if that be no longer possible, let the letter perish provided the Spirit remains." The italics are Mr. M.'s.

168 For my part, I believe that to follow the Lord Jesus, does not prevent obedience to his word; and that, much to the contrary, it is the word which directs us in obedience by following it closely.

As to the comparison which Mr. M. makes of the relations between the churches, with those which subsisted between the tribes of Israel,* my answer is short and easy. It is God who divided Israel into tribes, and it is sin which has made the divisions which Mr. M. calls churches, which call themselves denominations, a word which Mr. Beverley [-ly?] agrees with everybody to call sects. I do not recognize, then, these churches in any way, for the reason which Mr. M. himself gives for it, namely, that the Bible recognizes no other division than that of time and place. Consequently, I have no altar** to recognize. My altar is set up, not as a memorial, but for the enjoyment of that which God has established - the unity of the Church - an enjoyment, which, in His great grace, the Lord has connected with even two or three met in His name.

{*Pages 36, 37.}

{**Alluding to the two and a half tribes.}

In the following words the system of this tract reveals, as regards the Christian walk, a looseness of principles, which alone would be enough to condemn it. "We have not always a choice between positive evil and positive good; on the contrary, it may often be pleasing to the Lord that we should accept, because of our relationship with others, that path which is not altogether the best. You at every step confound moral questions with questions of judgment; you think that to make every thing a matter of conscience is the way to do everything conscientiously."*

{*Page 40.}

I think that when the will of God is known, and on those points where it is known, we must needs follow it, and that then it cannot be a question of choice. I think that if, because of our relationship with others, one dispensed with doing the will of God, it would be to prefer man to God, it would be a sin produced by the fear of man. And although it is very important to remember that we are called to liberty, the liberty which Jesus gives us does not exempt us from seeking in all things the will of God; but it sets us free to do it, free in the accomplishment of it, because we love His will as well as the things He wills, being made partakers of the divine nature, which, in man, makes itself known by obedience, and by its affection for the things of the Spirit; the Holy Ghost Himself being the power which gives liberty in virtue of the redemption accomplished by Jesus. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free."

169 I will notice in passing that Mr. M. condemns in brethren* that which he seeks to justify here in others, as regards the duty of seeking spiritual profit. There are besides, a crowd of these things which I have had no desire to take up.

{*Page 59.}

In that which Mr. M. says, with the desire of turning away souls from the walk of faith, he shews a levity which is excessively painful; and which betrays the source of all this system. Here is an example: "If there had been a bridge over the Jordan, its waters would not have stopped to let Israel pass over dryshod"*

{*Page 101.}

I confess that such a way of speaking of the admirable ways of our God, the perfection of wisdom and goodness, is to me exceedingly repulsive. I keep away from principles and from a system which keep me, as it appears to me, far from God, and which have their origin in a spirit so at variance with Him; for near Him, there is not that want of reverence for His ways. I deplore it in any one I have known as I have known Mr.M.


Here is the sad root of the ways and of the system of Mr. M.:

"He," says Mr. M.,* "who knows the evil of his own heart, will always take the toad where the least faith is needed," that is to say, where he is the least put to the test. Here again the italics are Mr. M.'s.

{*Page 101.}

Is this the Christian walk?

Is he who would follow the road, "where he is put to the least test," the one who follows the Lord Jesus?

This is easily understood, that none dare go beyond his faith, that the sense of our weakness would make us seek the grace of Jesus by faith, while distrusting ourselves. But to establish a system, and to settle one's walk,* so as to be as little put to the test as possible, is to avow, in a manner rather astounding, the intention of not following Christ closely. It is a path which the flesh will easily find out.

{*The fact is that the Christian never chooses his path. It is a question of being faithful in the path which God has traced for us by His will. And, if there be a question of the heart's choice, surely, if God gives us the grace for it, a christian heart would accept as a gift the privilege of suffering with Jesus (Phil. 1:29; ch. 3:10).}

170 Yet I doubt that a person could find his own blessing there, and specially if he were a Christian, which I do not doubt Mr. M. is.

A word or two here will make Mr. M.'s object plain. The system which he believes to be biblical "is nowhere," says he,* "established." It belongs "to the Church of the future."** However, he does not delude himself.

{*Page 96.}

{**Page 135.}

"Our Church of the future," says he,* will never do miracles, it will not attain to perfection, nor regenerate that part of the world within its reach; … and at its close we shall boast ourselves of it still less than at its beginning." For the present, nevertheless, he rests on that which remains of old dissent. "Remember," says he,** "that you have not, like us poor dissenters, the right, I do not say of justifying, but of explaining your fall," etc.

{*Page 136.}

{**Page 100.}

However, that old dissent does not suit him, although he loves to avail himself of the remembrance of it.

"It is unquestionable," says he,* "that there was a narrow spirit amongst the dissenters of certain localities. Perhaps one does still demand too positively the confession of a faith well established, and having the consciousness of itself." "We wish to open our arms to every soul for whom there is a good hope."

{*Page 124.}

"Some years ago dissenters would have been stiff and not easily dealt with. Now we are humbled. We hold to nothing but the unity of brethren. As to the unlucky name of dissent, we like it as little as you do yourselves."* Mr. M. here is addressing the scattered brethren who belong to the Church of the future, whose system is to admit, in consequence, "a wise elasticity of forms."**

{*Page 135.}

{**Page 136.}

As to the National Church, Mr. M. shews no mercy. It is "a deceitful beacon,"* "a guide into the ditch,"** where "all that is most sacred has been cleverly arranged in order to lull to sleep the worldly in a deceitful and deadly sleep." Its members accept the corruption of Christendom.

{*Page 14.}

{**Page 13.}

171 As regards the Free Church, there is some hope. But discipline! One lesson will do for it. The system which they have imagined in order to come to an agreement as to discipline, is, in Mr. M.'s judgment, "a subterfuge unworthy of those eminent minds and of those upright souls" of which it is composed. It is "an unheard of infringement on dogma" … "an odious and monstrous piece of inconsistency." "The supper of the Lord is left outside to be trodden under the feet of the Gentiles; the holy electoral urn is the centre round which its members assemble!"* "In matters of interpretation, theologians, when in despair, are capable of anything."** However there is hope. "These dear brethren bestir themselves in vain against themselves; their ecclesiastical system will melt away before their Christian sympathies.*** Doubtless the Free Church will preserve its distinct organization, and unfortunately it will preserve its clergy too."**** "It is an infringement on divine order."***** Nevertheless one will rest satisfied. The Free Church "bears two infants in its bosom,"****** and one of them, "with its supper without meaning as regards communicants," will give way to the other. "Spontaneousness is a young and amiable dissent, too young as yet to account to itself for its origin, and besides caring little to bear that name."******* But one holds out the hand to it." If an express and mature adhesion is enough to create the Christian family, dissenters will be fully satisfied. We can already hold out our hand to every assembly which desires to be a Christian family." If the present means for making a Christian family do not succeed, the Free Church will add "its veto."******** And indeed the Free Church has dissenting tendencies and necessities.

{* Page 126.}

{**Page 128.}

{***Page 128.}

{****Page 129.}

{*****Page 144.}

{******Page 128.}

{*******Page 126.}

{********Page 125.}

I do not know if the soft words of Mr. M. with his sharp lessons, would gain over the Free Church to his advances. I doubt if, such as it is, it will have any future. But there are some dear brethren in its bosom, for whom trials, and the teachings of God Himself, will open a way. Happy are we to have a future in Jesus, when the difficulties of the road are ended. I believe that the Christians of the Free Church have not begun their work on the foundation which God and His word have laid; but I gladly leave them individually in the hands of Him who is always faithful towards His own, loving them and caring for them as His own flesh. Men will make systems. Grace will cause souls to grow in Jesus. He it is who will bring hearts together, and it is neither ecclesiastical constitutions nor agreements which will bring about this result.

172 As to the "Plymouthists" Mr. M. makes them undergo the fate of National Churches. He gives, besides, directions or details in order to sow division amongst the flocks. One ought to remain there if one has a hope of warning the whole; but, if the principles are too deeply rooted for one to entertain the hope of destroying them, "it is a fretting leprosy in the house. Save yourselves from such a congregation as you would extricate yourself from the grasp of a drowning man."* "It is a perfidious enemy."** Finally, if my reader has a wish for it, he will find in Mr. M.'s tract*** instruction cleverly arranged, so as to divide the flocks, to scatter them, and to win over their numbers.

{*Page 132.}

{**Page 129.}

{***Pages 129 to 133.}

For my part, I have only one frank and sincere piece of advice to give to all those whom Mr. M. may address. It is this: If any one shares the sentiments of Mr. M. on the principles in question, and on the brethren who have embraced them, he will do well, and it will only be what is straightforward and honest, to leave indeed as quickly as he can. I can advise no one, not even with the object of winning others, "to be thus perpetually coasting so close to sin"; for in truth "evil communications corrupt good manners." If you see in us "a fretting leprosy," "a perfidious enemy"; if you believe that we have put before you inviting dishes "because poison is never given alone,"* no, eat not of them. But do not pretend holding out to them a brotherly hand, to join the brethren unsuspectingly, whilst in secret you are entertaining such an opinion of them.

{*Page 130.}


One word on Plymouth, since Mr. M. returns several times to the "schism of Plymouth," although that has, for the purpose here, but a slight importance.

173 The brethren who, at Plymouth, had from the commencement devoted themselves to the work, as well as others who had helped in the oversight of the flock, met each week to take counsel together on all that concerned the welfare of the assembly, the reception of members, etc., and the work in general, communicating in detail to the flock all that which, in general, would interest them, and specially all the cases of public discipline, which demanded any public act on their part. The supper was open to every Christian; gifted brethren, whencesoever they might have come, partook of the supper as members of the body of Christ, and exercised freely as such their gifts. There was much blessing. There were also difficulties, for which God in His grace provided.

Mr. Newton, to make use of his own expression, for twelve years laboured, heart and soul, to bring in there the clerical system. He succeeded in breaking up the little meeting of which I spoke. He prevented brethren of other places from coming; and finally, when I resisted this, he declared, in the presence of some fifteen brethren met on this matter, that he sought to make Plymouth a centre, and to produce there, amongst those who were there, a union against the views of brethren; adding that he hoped to have under his influence, for this end, the assemblies of the three neighbouring counties.

It is clear that I could not agree to this.

Satan sought to overthrow the brethren. Without doubt there had been neglect, since this had thus crept in amongst them. But outside of a little circle of intimate friends, no one suspected it, until Mr. Newton thought himself strong enough to strike the intended blow. God, however, in His great grace, watched over His testimony and over His poor children who, without doubt, had failed therein. It is possible that, in the hard contest which I have had to go through, I have failed in different things; but, at bottom, I have nothing on my conscience. I asked for the re-establishment of the little meeting whereof I spoke. Finally, God brought out all into the fullest light: and a system of lies, of intrigues and blindness, the work of Satan - the like of which I have seen nowhere - was clearly manifested. The brethren in general having shewn firmness in this matter, God blessed this also; and it was discovered that Mr. Newton had, for a long time, secretly taught, concerning the Person of Christ, doctrines which overthrew the gospel; that for a long time, they had been circulated with his knowledge, by means of sisters whom he had gained over, who had positive orders to let nothing of it be seen by those who could judge of it, and who had a list of the persons to whom it was permitted to entrust the manuscripts which contained these doctrines.

174 Now Mr. Newton having put forth these doctrines in a reading meeting, they drew the attention of a brother, who, though he was quite under his influence, was nevertheless sound in the faith. He wrote on the subject to Mr. N. The latter answered him, justifying his doctrine, which he asked this brother to keep concealed, because, said he, there were saints who were not yet prepared to receive it.

Here is that doctrine: It is that Christ, born of Adam, is his descendant, so that the expression "made sinners" (Rom. 5:19) applied to Him; that is, that through His being descended from Adam, the head of the human family, Christ was constituted a sinner, and exposed to all the consequences of the state in which He found Himself; that He had to obtain life by observing the law; that through His faithfulness He extricated Himself from this state; that at the time of the baptism by John He ceased, from being under the law, to be under grace; that He had to find His way up to a point where God could meet Him, and that this was in death, in the death of the cross: that consequently, Jesus experienced the feelings which an elect man, yet unconverted, must have experienced, if he had a suitable sense of his position; and that Jesus experienced them, not as our substitute, but as associated by His birth with man and with Israel in the condition in which they were respectively.

When the very friends themselves of Mr. Newton told him, that if he did not retract such a doctrine, they would give up all intercourse with him, he withdrew the application which he had made of Romans 5:19 to the Lord Jesus, but expressly meanwhile maintaining all the rest of the doctrine up to this day. At least he maintained it still, when very lately I left England.

Thanks be to God, the brethren were delivered, and these doctrines repelled. Those of our brethren who acted at Plymouth in concert with Mr. N. were quite undeceived and delivered through the great grace of God. They confessed they had preached a false Christ; and they did this in such a manner as to give them a right to the full confidence of brethren. Some still followed Mr. Newton, and he built a chapel for their use. But, despairing of exercising any action over brethren, he tried to gain some influence among the members of the National Church, and amongst the members of the Scotch Free Church in London. I am told that they also are beginning to be on their guard.

175 The brethren are not only delivered but strengthened. For, painful as it was, this sifting has been salutary to them. And it was needful; for worldliness had slipped into their midst, and at Plymouth it shewed itself boldly. All feel that a weight, for which no one could account, was removed. The field of labour is wider than ever; and I have never found so many doors widely open, nor so much blessing, as during my last stay in England. And (oh! the wondrous grace of God, which has greatly struck me) never, during all this painful time, has the gospel preaching, on the part of faithful brethren, been checked, and never, I believe, was it more blessed.

That all this has been very humbling, I allow, and brethren fed it; and I hope that, by the grace of God, they will feel it as I do myself. But God has strengthened the faith of many brethren; He has enlightened and strengthened them in their walk; He has made many of them intelligent, who only walked with brethren for the blessing which they found amongst them; He has brought out important truths, which were but little known; and brought into full light the devices of the enemy, of which one had no idea.

Such is, in a few words, the history of what is called the Plymouth schism - a painful lesson, but blessed.

This is the thing to which, unwittingly, I think, but by means of his false position, Mr. M. has put a hand.

My brother, for such I believe you to be, listen to me - you know I love you!

You are seeking, and it is not the first time, a sphere large enough to suit you, and you think that if ever the liberty of ministry is to be understood and accepted, "on a great scale," it never will be by our means.* As to a large sphere, faith would have given you one; for it has before it all the will of God, a vast field which His love has opened. There is, it is true, a field large enough, apparently, open to any who would walk in the path: which requires the least degree of faith; but as to that path, it is too much frequented. You will meet there too many competitors; and, after all, you will be deceived. It is far better, while recognizing one's weakness, to do nothing else than seek the will of God. Thus one is blessed, even when weak; blessed, even though man may curse.

176 I pray for you.

{*Page 101.}


It remains for me to touch upon a few points which connect themselves with the preceding.

We shall find that disbelief on the subject of the presence of the Holy Ghost - a disbelief which effaces the truth as regards the Church, destroys it also as regards the action of that Spirit in gifts and fruits of His grace.

"Ministry," says Mr. M., "is of God."*

{*Page 78.}

Well! how does he understand this?

"Natural or acquired capacity," he adds, "quickened and sanctified by the Spirit of truth, becomes fruit of grace from on high."

That God, before placing therein the gift, prepares the vessel, by endowing it with natural or acquired qualities, this I believe. Paul was a vessel of election, prepared of God. The Master has given to those of His household, to each one "according to his several ability." But to say that natural or acquired abilities become fruit of grace from on high, is nothing but rationalism refined in order to make an exclusive ministry.

Mr. M. says concerning the presence of the Holy Ghost Himself, things which shew a wish to weaken faith in His presence. As to the formula, which he attributes to us,* I have never heard of it. But to say, as he does, that the Holy Ghost "Himself dwells with the friend of Jesus," is to betray, as to the presence of the Holy Ghost, very serious unbelief, of which the sequel of the passage only multiplies the proofs. "He dwelleth with you," said the Lord, "and shall be IN you." Why omit one half of the Saviour's declaration? And who is it who dwells with us and shall be in us? is it not the Comforter sent by the Father? It is, I think, the Holy Ghost in person. This is why he says to the Corinthians "know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19). He is then a Person, I suppose. What then does this mean: "a real presence but not a personal presence"?*

{*Page 109.}

177 And this unbelief betrays itself in a way still more serious, in what Mr. M. says a few lines farther on. "The one hundred-and-twenty tongues of fire … had not together … the value of the dove which John saw descending on the well-beloved Son." Were then these one hundred-and-twenty tongues of fire really the Holy Ghost Himself?

And with what does this assertion connect itself?

"In Jesus alone dwells all the fulness"; "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." "The one hundred-and-twenty tongues of fire … had not the value of the dove," etc.

Does Mr. M. think that this divine seal, put on Jesus as man "anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power," when He took His place with His own and began His public career, is the same thing as "the fulness which dwells in him bodily"? Is it when the Holy Ghost descended on Him, that the fulness of His deity began?

And if that is not what it means, what connection is there between these things? Was it the personal presence of the Holy Ghost in Jesus which constituted in Him the fulness of the Deity? If not, the contrast which Mr. M. establishes on this point between Him and His disciples has no value.

Jesus as man was sealed by God the Father; but He was God manifested in the flesh, which is quite another thing. There is a difference in the manner of the presence of God. Christ was God incarnate. The Holy Ghost, even if we look on Him as God, only dwells in us. He does not become man so as to unite humanity to His Person. And, if we recognize the Holy Ghost as a Person and as God, what do these words mean: "the one hundred-and-twenty tongues of fire had not the value of the dove"?

This is true, that the manifestation of the Holy Ghost in Christ, who did not lift up "his voice in the streets," was different from the manifestation of the Holy Ghost in the disciples, who were to proclaim abroad from the housetops what He said to them in the ear. Christ was more the object, the disciples were more the messengers, of the faith which condemns the world which has rejected Jesus. But to speak of the comparative value of the Holy Ghost in Jesus and in His disciples is first of all to confound the Person of Jesus with the seal of the Holy Ghost; then it is to confound the Holy Ghost with the manifestations of His presence.

178 It is the Comforter, the Holy Ghost Himself, who came down on the day of Pentecost, and it is His presence which made Peter say, "thou hast not lied to men, but unto God."

If we compare the effects of the presence of the Holy Ghost as a testimony, it is the contrary which is true. "He that believeth on me," said Jesus,"… greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father," John 14:12.

To say that the worth of Jesus was greater than that of His disciples is nonsense. One cannot compare God and His creatures, nor the Son of God with those who are His, however blessed they may be. This is evident. To compare the Holy Ghost manifested in one way, with the Holy Ghost manifested in another way, is unbelief as to His divine Person.

I do not say (and I indeed hope that it is not so) that Mr. M. has abandoned orthodoxy. But the page of his tract, with which we have just been occupied, betrays certainly a very serious rationalism, the fruit of philosophy. It betrays a practical unbelief which is enough to account for the general bearing of this tract, and which shews itself to the attentive reader in many places. So again, in these words: "when the apostle says that the children of God are led by His Spirit (Rom. 8:14), this has solely reference to faith and holiness in the affections and in life." The influence of the Holy Ghost doubtless manifests itself in these things; but that which is on the mind of the apostle is not the influence of the Spirit only, but the Spirit Himself; that which is on the mind of Mr. M. is a state of soul; in Romans 8:16 the apostle says, "it is the same Spirit," or "the Spirit itself." And again, "the Spirit helpeth," "the Spirit maketh intercession," the Spirit "dwelleth" in us.

That the Irvingites said that there was more than one Immanuel, is a thing I never heard them accused of; and I have great doubts of it, however they have been deceived by the enemy. However that may be, we have not now to deal with them. But I pray my brethren to be well on their guard against that rationalistic unbelief, which the tract we are examining manifests concerning the presence of the Holy Ghost, and against the efforts which have for their object to substitute for the personal presence of the Holy Ghost in us, a real presence of the Spirit with us. All that this page contains seems to me extremely serious, and makes me more uneasy as regards Mr. M. than nearly all the rest of his tract. I do not know where he learnt these things; but I recognize there, in the expressions, in the use of the word, in the manner of quoting from it, as well as in the doctrine, marks so evident of a work of the enemy, a work which I have seen elsewhere, that I confess it alarms me exceedingly. Does he think that the personal presence of the Holy Ghost only took place when He descended on Jesus? And, as we have already asked, is it to this that he applies the expression "the fulness of the Godhead"?

179 Whilst fully recognizing that it was the Holy Ghost in Person who descended on Jesus, it is certain that, generally speaking, the word of God shews the personal coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, to be a result of the ascension of Jesus; that it was then that the Holy Ghost was personally sent from on high as that other Comforter, who was to abide with us for ever. Before that, the distinctive thing was the presence of the Son, without the possibility of separating the Father from Him (John 14:10), and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:28), as many passages shew. That which distinguishes the present time, since Pentecost, is the presence of the Holy Ghost, from whom we cannot separate the Father or the Son; John 14:23.

Is it thus then that Mr. M. has learnt only to see a "fulness in the testimony of the Holy Ghost to the Christian's heart, which is unknown in the past dispensation"?* Is this all? Has not the Comforter been sent from on high after the ascension of Jesus? Is it not said (John 7:39), that "the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified"? In nowise is it believed, that the faithful of the last dispensation were, as he accuses us of saying, "strangers to the work of the Holy Ghost" or to divine life; but we believe that the Comforter was not yet given, as He was given when the work of Jesus had been finished. Does not the word of God say it?

{*Page 108}

One remark on the subject of the Lord's return.

Mr. M. says on this subject,* "It was apparently Paul's expectation when he wrote the first of his epistles; but towards the close of his life, he reckoned he would die"

{*Page 102.}

180 Were the thoughts of Paul changed, as if he had been wrong at first? By no means. He speaks of the Church's hope, which he shared, and he speaks of it in these words: "we "at the end he awaited an immediate martyrdom. He was "now" about to be poured out as a libation of the sacrifice. This makes no change in the doctrine, nor in the hope of faith.

A middle course in faith is infidelity in the heart.

There is a painful indifference to the word of God as a guide. In speaking of the choice and appointment of elders, this is how Mr. M. arranges the matter:* "The brethren who had done the one, would be able, if needs be, to do the other also." Is it thus that one is to dispose of the word according to our pleasure?

{*Page 91.}

As to the doctrine of guilt, that which Mr. M. says of it* amounts to this, namely, that the doctrine which teaches that all men are under the guilt under which Adam was, is an error; that is to say, he is, on this point, what is called an Arminian. The important thing to observe is the levity with which, as with the authority of a teacher, he treats traditional orthodoxy on the point as an error. What he says on Romans 5:14, viz., that the children of Adam are "far from being accounted guilty of having committed his sin," has no connection with the question; because, as this passage says, they have not in fact committed that sin; but he says nothing of their state of guilt in the sight of God. But Romans 5:19 says positively that by the sin of Adam they were made sinners. Mr. M. criticizes on this occasion a quotation which I made from Amos 5:26, in the tract on "The State of the Church." The Spirit of God says there that the Israelites, guilty as a part of the whole, of the nation, and guilty of the whole of its sin, would bear the punishment of it in a captivity beyond Babylon. Now we must not lose sight of this, that in this part of the tract "The State of the Church," it was a question not of the eternal consequences of sin, but of the government of God with respect to Israel. since this government of God deals with the Israelites as guilty, I think therefore He regarded them as such. Joshua and Caleb have nothing in common with this, for there is no question of the faithful, who by the way suffer the consequences of the sin of others, as sharing the lot of the people; the question was as to the unbelieving who, ratifying the sin and unbelief of their fathers, bear the punishment of it, after acting like their fathers or even yet worse.

{*Page 48.}

181 I will not take up with a view to answering it, a very ridiculous prediction of Mr. M.* concerning what is to happen to brethren. I only touch on it for the purpose of explaining a principle which is connected with it.

{*Page 52.}

It is said in "Le Temoignage":*

{*"The Testimony," published in French. [Tr.]}

"When corruption has affected a thing which God had made for blessing, He rejects it; or He replaces it by bringing in something else." Mr. M. speaks of this "something else" as if we made it to be "that which should replace the Christian churches in the struggle against evil."

Where did he find that? Every one knows that what brethren believe, is that all the system which exists is in a state of failure, and that it will be laid aside; first, morally, by its own apostasy; then by the judgment of God, who will replace, by the presence of Jesus Himself, the testimony which men failed to render to Him. That there is to be in the course of time a testimony among the Jews is what I believe. But it is not necessary that I should here enter into these details. I only desire to hinder ridicule being cast on an important truth by the false manner in which it has been represented.


I have finished my task - a task which has been very painful to me; not because I differ from Mr. M. on the subject of elders, a difference which is to me comparatively of little importance: but painful because the principles on which he founds his arguments seem to me immoral; not immoral in the sense of that gross immorality which scandalizes the natural conscience, but in this sense, that they give a false turn to the relations of things to God; not that they undermine the flocks, but that they efface the limits and marks of good and evil, and remove the boundaries of eternal. truth.

It is important that, whatever opinion they may hold, brethren should be on their guard against such principles.

The question is about something very distinct from a sect of Plymouthists.

182 My deep conviction is - and I warn my brethren as to it - that, whether through the wish to subvert certain doctrines, or through worldliness, rationalism is creeping at this moment into the ranks of those who, after having left nationalism, are not willing to walk according to the simplicity of the word of God. The journal "La Reformation," and the tract of Mr. M. shew this very clearly.

We all know, that for a long time since Mr. M. has been making war against brethren as it laid in his power; so that his tract did not take me by surprise, nor has it surprised, I think, anyone else; but I was not aware of the degree to which he had come down as regards his faith and his principles. The descent of the way on which he walks is rapid. Once in movement, the rapidity of the descent increases at each step. Mr. M. avows, alas! that he will not take the path of faith. His pamphlet will have confirmed in their walk those who have faith.

The allusion which he makes to certain German scholars explains perhaps the sad progress which he has made in the path of that infidelity which clothes itself with philosophical vagueness. I know not.

What I do know is, that his pamphlet has caused me deep sorrow. He does not perceive in the least what he hast lost. It matters little to have true principles about ministry and about any other such things, if living and real faith in the power and presence of our God by His Spirit be wanting to us.

It behoves us to be prudent. That prudence which the fear of the Lord gives and subjection to the word are sufficient against the traps and devices of the adversary. The rule of the Christian is "wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil."

Brethren, young and old, are called on to pay attention to this. They will do well to profit by the reproaches of Mr. M. whatever may be the evil source from which they may have passed into his work. But I should prefer to undergo some reproaches, even deserved, in the path of faith, than to avoid all blame in the paths of infidelity.

Would to God I had more energy to run such a risk oftener!